Majority Liberians and war crimes prosecution campaigners were jubilant yesterday when news broke out that the United States House of Representatives had passed Resolution 1055 which calls for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation’s recommendation, including the establishment of a special war crimes tribunal for Liberia.
A product of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord brokered August 2003, the TRC sought to bring an end to the culture of war and economic crimes impunity by proffering key recommendations for implementation. Sadly, the TRC recommendations were thrown in the dustbin by the erstwhile Sirleaf government, and now, the Coalition-led government of President George Weah seems outrageously opposed to the idea of prosecuting war criminals.
It is noteworthy to mention that the Coalition government which largely comprises the bulwark of the Congress for Democratic Change, excessively championed prosecution of war criminals during the regime of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Surprisingly, President Weah and his government have now changed lanes and are saying it is untimely to call for establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia based on security reasons.
In the heat of the debate, Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County, former leader of the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), says he will fight anyone who tries to arrest him for war crimes. During the civil conflict Prince Johnson indiscriminately killed civilians who sought refuge within his INPFL control areas, including renowned musician Tecumsey Roberts. Johnson also butchered President Samuel K. Doe on camera in a drunken rage.
Apart from Johnson, many Liberians who sponsored, facilitated or actively led the civil carnage are today seeking protection under the guise of state power. Newly elected Southeastern Representative George E.S. Boley was recently deported from the United States due to his role in the Liberian civil conflict.
Kabinneh J’aneh, an associate justice of the Supreme Court, was a leading member of the Liberians United for Reconstruction and Development (LURD), a rebel group which brought pressure to bear on the Taylor government for him to abdicate power and seek sanctuary in Nigeria, from where he was later arrested for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone. The TRC targets Justice Ja’neh among others for punishment.
Nobel laureate, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the so-called “Iron Lady” who admitted in her autobiography “This Child Shall be Great” that she provided $10,000 to fund Charles Taylor’s NPFL-led war into Liberia, was also targeted in the TRC report.
In the wake of the passage of Resolution 1055 by the USHOR, President Weah touched down yesterday at the Roberts International Airport where he cautioned Liberians to choose between war crime and peace and reconciliation. His idea is that the implementation of war crimes prosecution for the sake of economic development could jeopardize the peace.
But what this government fails to realize is that peace is not the silence of guns. While it is true that people are no longer dodging direct or stray bullets, Liberians are fighting a new war perpetrated by economic vultures, majority of whom are those who sponsored and actively participated in our civil carnage.
For us at the Parrot, we join millions of our citizens and Friends of Liberia who celebrate the passage of Resolution 1055.
No, President Weah. Prosecuting war criminals will not lead to war. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to form a Coalition with Taylor’s National Patriotic Party to win the 2017 elections. Because, had Taylor not been indicted and placed behind bars, your dream of becoming Liberia’s 24th president would have remained nothing but a dream.